USING THE INTERNET AND WEB FOR
Senior Researcher, Centre for Policy Alternatives
Editor, Groundviews (www.groundviews.org)
The fundamental skill in navigating the web
Search engine of choice
Google - http://www.google.lk
Google began in January 1996 as a research project by Larry Page, a
Ph.D. student at Stanford. In search for a dissertation theme, Page
considered—among other things—exploring the mathematical properties
of the World Wide Web, understanding its link structure as a huge graph.
Incorporated as Google Inc., on 4 September 1998
The name quot;Googlequot; originated from a misspelling of quot;googol” which refers
to the number represented by a 1 followed by one-hundred zeros. Having
found its way increasingly into everyday language, the verb, quot;googlequot; was
added to the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary and the Oxford
English Dictionary in 2006, meaning, quot;to use the Google search engine to
obtain information on the Internet.”
3 simple ways to search
Use more words
E.g. Sri Lanka journalists vs. journalists
Use unusual words
Sri Lanka Lasantha Wickremetunga
Use quotation marks
“Sri Lanka cricket” vs. Sri Lanka Cricket
Howdo you calculate 1 Swiss Franc to a Sri Lankan
Howmany kilos in a pound?
What is 59 F in Celsius?
The Internet and web have revolutionised the way
we access news and information
Not only do we consume, we can now also report
the news (citizens journalism)
Google's News is revolutionary in that it is wholly computerised –
humans do not make the selections. The links to the news stories on
one subject are clustered together, with the total number of stories
indicating the scale of worldwide interest.
Topics are updated every 15 minutes.
You can customise the news, by arranging Google's subject areas,
including sections from their 20+ international editions, in various
Really advantageous, though, is that you can choose your own
subjects: select keywords required in the stories you want and
Google will search them out for you on a regular basis.
Google Newspaper indexing
Partnering with newspaper publishers to digitize millions of
pages of news archives. Let's say you want to learn more
about the landing on the Moon.
Not only will you be able to search newspapers, you'll also
be able to browse through them exactly as they were
printed -- photographs, headlines, articles, advertisements
Pittsburgh Post Gazette -
RSS is a family of Web feed formats used to publish
frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news
headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format.
An RSS document (which is called a quot;feedquot;, quot;web feed”,
or quot;channelquot;) includes full or summarized text, plus
metadata such as publishing dates and authorship.
They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely
updates from favored websites or to aggregate feeds
from many sites into one place
International Journalist Networks
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) -
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) -
International Freedom of Expression Exchange
(IFEX) - http://www.ifex.org/
From Wikipedia to Encyclopedia Britannica, the
web has more information that can be consumed in
50 million visitors a day
700,000 articles in English
Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly
search for scholarly literature.
From one place, you can search across many disciplines
and sources: peer-reviewed papers, theses, books,
abstracts and articles, from academic publishers,
professional societies, preprint repositories, universities
and other scholarly organizations.
Google Scholar helps you identify the most relevant
research across the world of scholarly research.
Google Maps and Google Earth have
revolutionised the way we access and see geo-
Both are free. Google Earth typically requires a
powerful PC (graphics intensive) and broadband
New ways to visualise information incl. timelines and
Google Images indexes over 1.3 billion images -
Yahoo indexes over 1.6 billion images -
Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/
MEASURING INTEGRITY AND VERACITY
How do you measure integrity of a
Government information: It may not be correct, but it is official – you can quote a
government source with a clear idea of what you are getting.
Universities: Academic institutions offer a level of authority – this may vary, but it is
something to depend on. Most studies by recognised experts are still reviewed by
their peers, so the information is likely to be good quality.
Special interest groups: Non-governmental organisations and pressure groups may
push a particular line, but if they are recognised bodies, you, and your readers,
have some idea of what is being provided – it might be Transparency International,
the Caracas Chamber of Commerce, or the Red Crescent. Companies and
commercial sites could be regarded similarly, though the reliability of the site for an
internationally-known brand would be different from an unheard-of dotcom.
Everything else: Unidentifiable organisations, personal sites, hobbies, obsessions
etc. This includes most personal blogs
How do you evaluate a website?
AUTHORITY: Is this a recognised expert? A body with a known reputation?
AFFILIATION: Who is it connected with? A university? Another reputable body?
ACCURACY: If you spot mistakes while reading the site, then start worrying.
APPEARANCE: Is the site carefully put together? A lot of reliable sites are old-fashioned looking, rather than modern or
flashy, but a sloppy or amateur-looking production may indicate the site is the work of an individual rather than the large
operation it purports to be.
INTENT: Why does the site exist? Does it do the job it claims to be doing?
CURRENCY: Is it up-to-date? Look for recent dates, or information you know to be new.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Is it recommended by other people or organisations, by reliable experts, by people you know? How
many links to outside sources / sites does it have?
DEPTH: Has it done a thorough job in covering a subject or issue?
COMPREHENSIBILITY: Does the articles / content make sense? Are they inflammatory, partisan? Are there signs of bias?
CREDIBILITY: Does common sense tell you the information in the site is true?
NewsTrust - http://newstrust.net
The NewsTrust.net website features quality news
and opinions, which are carefully rated by our
members, based on quality, not just popularity.
NewsTrust reviewers evaluate each story against
core principles of journalism, such as fairness,
accuracy, context and sourcing -- using our unique
Digg - http://digg.com/
Digg is a place for people to discover and share content
from anywhere on the web. From the biggest online
destinations to the most obscure blog, Digg surfaces the best
stuff as voted on by our users. You won’t find editors at
How do we do this? Everything on Digg — from news to
videos to images — is submitted by our community (that
would be you). Once something is submitted, other people
see it and Digg what they like best. If your submission rocks
and receives enough Diggs, it is promoted to the front page
for the millions of our visitors to see.
NowPublic - http://www.nowpublic.com/
NowPublic is a participatory news network which
mobilizes an army of reporters to cover the events that
define our world.
In twelve short months, the company has become one of
the fastest growing news organizations with thousands
of reporters in over 140 countries.
During Hurricane Katrina, NowPublic had more
reporters in the affected area than most news
organizations have on their entire staff.